Book Reviews

THE CROSS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, by Leon Morris; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 454 pp.; $6.95. 

The author of this large volume takes the reader on an extended trip through the entire New Testament to examine with him the teaching found in each book concerning the cross of Christ. He begins with Matthew and examines each author individually until he arrives at John’s Revelation to inquire of each one what he has to teach on this central subject. 

With clarity of style and considerable completeness the author points to the teaching of the New Testament as a whole, but also to the individual contributions of each author. He makes extensive use of footnotes in which he examines at no little length the findings of many different students of Scripture, concurring with some of them, rejecting others. The book is filled with interesting and occasionally beautiful insights, rather, sound exegesis in many instances and a sturdy defense of the substitutionary nature of the atonement. 

For all these reasons, it is well worth reading and studying. It can be a worthwhile aid for both ministers and laymen. 

There are several weaknesses in the book however. The first and most serious is the “double track” approach to the work of salvation so common with evangelicals. While there is adequate and Reformed emphasis on the totally depraved character of man and the sovereignty of god, there is also the strong Arm in i an undercurrent which spoils so many books nowadays. One brief quotation will demonstrate this. “The emphasis in Paul’s writings is always on what God has done for man’s salvation, not on any human effort whatever. The cross is the means whereby sin is put away. Over and over again Paul stresses the priority of the divine, and with it man’s total inability to (do) anything at all to bring about salvation. Nevertheless, and though its place must be understood carefully, Paul does not think of man’s response as lacking importance. It is not in any way meritorious and this truth must not be obscured. It is not the cause of salvation, but it is the means of receiving salvation.” All this is very well said. But then the author explains this “response” further and adds: “Paul thinks, of God as having done in Christ all that is necessary for dealing effectively with man’s sin. But man must receive the proffered salvation, else he will not have it.” This position in turn leads the author to, among other things, a universal atonement and a very weak treatment of predestination. 

Secondly (and now in the opinion of this reviewer), the author would have added immeasurably to the value of the book by synthesizing the teachings of the New Testament and developing them in this synthetic manner. Treating the Bible book by book (while obviously the deliberate purpose of the author) lends itself to a disjointed discussion.

Thirdly (also in the opinion of undersigned) it is impossible to discuss the cross in the New Testament without also discussing such important subjects as the relation between election and the cross, particular atonement, the relation between the cross and the resurrection of Christ and the relation between the cross and Christ’s glorification. Scripture itself establishes these relationships. 

—Prof. H. Hanko 

COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS, F.F. Bruce; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. 447 pages, $6.00 

This is another in Eerdmans’ series, “The New International Commentary on the New Testament,” begun under the late Dr. Ned B. Stonehouse as general editor. Dr. Bruce is not only the author of this book but is also the new general editor. 

As far as commentaries go, I think Dr. Bruce has done a creditable work with an epistle which is not by any means easy to interpret. For general help in the study of Hebrews this commentary can be of assistance. My general criticism is that the interpretation is not sufficiently specific and detailed. This is especially true of those crucial passages where one often desires some very specific help and analysis of the text. Commentaries, however, are often disappointing when it comes to such crucial passages. 

This book, however, as well as the entire series may well be purchased by anyone desiring a worthwhile set of commentaries on the New Testament. Incidentally, this entire set is written in popular style; references to the Greek and to any data of technical nature are kept in the footnotes. This makes these books more valuable to the general readership. 


PRINCIPLES OF CONDUCT, John Murray; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. 272 pages, $2.25 (paperback) 

The author is Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. The ten chapters of this book were expanded from a series of lectures delivered in 1955. 

There are not many books devoted specifically to the study known as Ethics. That is the general subject of this book. It does not claim to be a complete treatment; it is rather a treatment of certain important aspects of Christian conduct. 

Without stating my agreement with all that Professor Murray has written here, I can certainly recommend this book. There is thorough treatment of the subjects dealt with; there is a very serious attempt at careful exegesis; in general, this is scholarly work. As an example, I point to the author’s treatment of I Corinthians 7, an always difficult passage, in his chapter on “The Marriage Ordinance.” I am always disappointed, however, when a work of this caliber is published in paperback form. I realize this is a reprint; but I think that even as a reprint it deserves better than a paperback treatment.